First, a little bit about the beginning of NBS/NIST.
An enabling act by Congress on March 3, 1901 created the National Bureau of Standards (NBS). The culmination of several entities going back to Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution (1789) -- "The Congress shall have power ... to fix the standard of weights and measures ...". Dr. Samuel Stratton was appointed the first director by President McKinley* and served until 1923 when he left to be the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
*McKinley was assassinated six months later.